It’s that time of year. Winter is here in full force in Sydney. We’ve experienced some of the coldest days of the year and winter isn’t even half over. With drops in temperature comes the germs. Days are short and the nights are cold so that means more people are coming to the gym. More people often means more germs. You may be wondering, “Should I exercise when sick?”
Should I Exercise When Sick?
We hear it often from members who come into the gym with the sniffles. The answer is: it depends. If you have the flu or a stomach bug, we highly recommend you stay home. No one wants to clean up after you. If you have a fever, vomiting, or have a contagious illness, then it is best for everyone if you stay home.
Physicians recommend avoiding exercise if your symptoms are “below the neck”. That means everything from a cough to diarrhoea to general fatigue and muscle aches. Your body needs time to rest and recover. And we’re sure you don’t want to share your germs with everyone at the gym. Take the time to rest and get better. The gym will be here for you tomorrow when you’re healthy.
However, if you just have the sniffles or allergies, it’s okay to exercise. Physicians agree that if your symptoms are “above the neck”, then it is okay to exercise. These symptoms include nasal congestion, sneezing, and a minor sore throat. Of course, if you can’t breathe or have a head injury, then you should not work out and consult with your physician.
Should I exercise when I’m sick? If you do choose to exercise while sick, decrease the duration and intensity. Your body is working hard to fight off the little germs in your body so it doesn’t have heaps of extra energy to get you through a 10 km run or work towards a dead lift personal best. Take it easy and do light cardio like walking or cycling.
Research studies have shown that light cardio might actually help you get better quick. It can open up your nasal passages and relieve some of your symptoms. However, intense exercise has the opposite effect and that’s why you need to tone it down. Strenuous exercise can lower your immune system and possibly make you sicker.
If you’re really not sure if you should exercise while you are sick, consult with your physician. It’s best to err on the side of caution. However, research studies have indicated that adults who exercise regularly caught 20% fewer respiratory illnesses than those who don’t. That’s a good reason to exercise right there!
So, should I work out when I’m sick? That’s up to you. If it’s just a little cold, then come on down to the gym. Just don’t forget to disinfect the equipment when you’re done with it. If you’re really weak and have been spending a lot of time in the bathroom lately, we recommend staying home until you feel better.